From flashy new piste skis to light-as-a-feather touring skis, next season’s skis look better than ever
There’s a lot of piste activity this season – in general the manufacturers are trying not to change ski ranges as often, to allow for a range to bed in and gain acceptance. So expect to see plenty of carry-over models in stores. We approve – it stops the insane dumping of skis because of a graphic change and means if you decide on a ski and want to change after getting a final season out of the current planks, it should still be available.
Trends away from the pure piste models are 90-105mm – it’s where the sales are for non-piste skis and with rocker, long noses and longish turn radii. All-mountain skis seem to have more shape than ever.
Here’s the stuff we think will be good based on past form, upcoming tech and general levels of excitement from initial testing:
Dynastar’s big news is the Speed Zone which has a whole new side-on layer sitting inside the edge with a damping material and metal strip. First tests show that it makes a lively ski track extremely accurately, and takes the Speed Zone to the upper ends of piste skis we’ve tried. Otherwise the new Mythic is ridiculously light with an entirely new honeycomb and carbon construction.
Black Crows have retuned the 91mm Orb to make it a little more lively – it was always a bit of a beast – and introduced a lightweight all-mountain 90mm model called the Captis – very flickable and playful feeling on first try.
Black Diamond’s new Helio series of lightweights have been skied by backcountry editor Martin, who was firmly impressed – he reckons they’re a step above the Carbon series from the past two seasons with more life.
Atomic’s Vantage X series are replacements for the Nomads, Crimsons and the like. First slides indicate they’re on the money – with the 77 CTi looking very strong for a bargain price.
Blizzard have linked with Audi to pinch the Quattro name for their new carbon-riddled piste range, and they run from 69mm to 84mm versions. They’ve also carbon-tipped the Brahma, Black Pearl and Latigo, making them a bit livelier and lighter in the ends. And yes, they’re at least as good as before…
Nordica have introduced a 93mm Enforcer to build the sub brand, and moved up a gear with their GT all-mountain series. Are you starting to spot a trend yet?
Head’s top-selling Supershape series are completely revised, and now get graphene added to the mix. The result is a punchier drive and very damped ride; they need a bit more work than the outgoing models but feel completely locked into the piste. They come from 68mm Speed to 80mm Titan, with turn shapes and increasing all-mountain ability to match.
Rossignol have revamped the best-selling Seven series and the Experience ranges; they’re now lightened and honeycombed, and there’s a 99mm Sky HD which could well pinch the Soul Seven’s top spot in the sales chart – it’s astoundingly cheap, sorry, good value, at £425 with a binding, and sits firmly in the ‘playful’ category.
Fischer’s Pro Mountain all-mountain range feels extremely light and flickable. It replaces the Motive series and appears to be livelier (and cheaper) – first turns suggest they’re right up there with the best AM skis. The new Curv (yes, it’s spelled in most un-Teutonic txt-spk) comes in slalom, all-round and GS-ish shapes and appears to be hyper smooth in operation.
Salomon QST – a new range of punchy freeriders with a lack of weight thanks to a mix of carbon and flax wrap around a wood core. 85, 92, 99 and 106mm widths should be widely available, with prices from £350. Coupled with a Warden or Guardian binding that should put the package prices at around £530 and up.
Völkl’s women-specific Flair line has been upgraded totally and a first ski suggests it’s spot on, with the lower and mid ranges skiing way above their price points. In touring, the VTA carbon skis have been rolled down the line and prices are tumbling, so there’s some very sweet tech available for a reduced premium over the conventional wood skis.
K2 have the new iKonic series of all-mountain skis – we’re literally just about to test them, so keep an eye online – and have already tried the asymmetric Marksman, which at 106mm is bang on schedule for a top ranking Freeride category score. The relatively wide 96mm Poacher park ski seems to have very useful all-mountain capabilities, so sits well across categories.
Scott’s Scrapper freeride series is getting a serious weight reduction and the award-winning SuperGuide is getting a bigger brother in 105mm width. The excellent Sagebrush is now called the ‘Sage’, but as far as we know it’s the same ski.
Line – there’s now a Tom Wallisch signature ski for everyone looking to win the X-Games, plus the Supernatural series has been revised to deliver a smoother, more powerful drive making this a pure freeride range against the Sick Days’ lighter, more playful attitude.
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- A sneak peek at next season’s boots